Having spent two days with Ethan's parents I'm reminded of how much both nature and nurture affect who we become.
It's flipin' hard to have a conversation with them. If anything becomes too personal or tied into feelings, they quickly clam up, walk away or occupy themselves with something. And, if they have the choice, they'll just by-pass conversation altogether. The first day they were here the ipad, laptop, Nexus7, computer and iphones were all on, all day and dominated everything - conversation, activity, even mealtimes. But then fiddling about on the laptop gave Ethan and his dad that connection, something to focus their communication on, that they wouldn't otherwise have had. Take away the gadgets, and conversation quickly got strained, or dried up altogether. And that's with me in the mix - and I'm an expert talker! I've always felt like I've had the ability to chat to anyone, get anyone talking, find a connection or some common ground - or at least feign interest and get a person to chat about themselves. But boy, by the end of two days even I was struggling.
And then there was the inability or refusal to disconnect the brain from the mouth. Ethan's dad punctuated the day with telling us our house was cold, telling us our children were badly behaved, telling us the places we took them to were rubbish! It's a good job I've developed a thick skin. Being married to someone with Asperger's has, at least, done that for me!
Big blow up at the weekend when I discovered that Ethan had been eyeing up Apple TV's on the Internet. So far in the past year, Ethan has purchased new speakers, a new amp, a new blu ray player, a new pair of eyes (laser surgery cos he didn't like wearing glasses), two new TVs, 30 new down-lights (cos the perfectly good lights we already had weren't the right kind) and an ipad that is completely excessive in addition to the two laptops, two iphones and computer that we already have. Believe it or not, I hate excessive spending, excessive anything actually. I'd much rather we had less and gave away more. But the arguments are exhausting. With each (unnecessary) purchase Ethan promises that this is the 'last thing' that there's 'nothing else I want'. But always, within a few weeks of having the new toy, he's looking for his next gadget fix.
Two weeks ago he bought the ipad that, I thought, we'd agreed we didn't need and wouldn't buy. Huge argument ensued. I felt like leaving him (and smashing up the ipad). He promised that was definitely 'the last thing'. I calmed down and (once again) let it go. Only to discover two weeks later him looking at prices for some other chunk of metal. It seems, with Ethan, the more he has the more he really does seem to want. And it's just so selfish and so unfair.
There are a couple of things I'd like (a log burner and a piano) that are now, thanks to Ethan's constant spending, way out of reach for years. And yet he keeps buying...And what he buys only he is interested in. Only he wants. He knows it will cause arguments and strain, and yet he keeps doing it. Like a junkie that is compelled to put his next fix above everything else.
Maybe I'm being too dramatic. Maybe other men have a midlife crisis and buy an expensive sports car, or spend thousands each year on football season tickets, or drink the equivalent of a small fortune every week at the pub. Ethan does none of that. But it seems wrong that I should just have to accept his constant indulgence in gadgets as a male quirk while my wishes and desires remain ignored or unrealised for decades (perhaps forever) because he's spent all our money on things that he wants....
In the meantime, I've got a job. Earning my own money to buy my own piano might be the only way we manage to stay together!